Jim McVay, a retired oil well driller who fished Andros Island in the Bahamas, is reported to have made the first Gotcha out of yellow carpet fibers he ‘aquired’ from the back of taxicab on the way to a fishing trip in Cargill Creek.
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Later models were made from blond craft fur. Many anglers consider it one of the best bonefish patterns ever devised. This fly is responsible for thousands and thousands of bonefish catches. Jim was not the one to give it its name. Rupert Leadon of the Andros Island Bonefish Club would say 'Gotcha' every time a bonefish hit the new fly. He did this again and again as the fly kept catching fish. After a while the name stuck.
The Gotcha is a long time favorite fly used all over the world. It is great for spooky shallow water bonefish tailers. It differs from the Crazy Charlie in a number of ways, It has a tail and the bead chain eyes are tied away from the eye of the hook rather than close to it. The gap between the bead chain and the eye of the hook is dressed in pink thread. I do not know what makes this fly so successful but I think it has something to do with the pink dressing. Don't ask me why or what the Bonefish interpret the pink color as signifying but they like it and they attack it. I think it is the secret ingredient. It has been around for a number of years now but is still one of the best for shallow flats and nervous fish. It is lightly dressed for a soft presentation in skinny water. It lands like a feather, sinks slowly. The perfect skinny water fly. It is less prone to bright-light spooking than shinier Crazy Charlies. The Gotcha is especially effective in Andros, the Berry Island, and other Bahamas locations. It should be in every flats angler's box
Most fish venture onto the flats with the incoming tide. Get there early, at low tide just before the tide turns and wait. Line yourself up such that the fish is approaching you head-on before casting. Cast to the side of the fish and in front of it, then retrieve with short hops. Remember, he's hunting while on the flats too - if he sees your fly he'll probably take it. This fly is an inverted hook pattern. It is designed so that the hook rides above the shank in the water. The idea is that the hook does not get caught on the bottom. By adding a relatively stiff wing material near the hook eye which covers the hook point, the fly becomes nearly weedless. If tied with sparse materials these flies can be made to sink very fast. This fly will bounce up and down on the retrieve and makes puffy little clouds on the bottom that sends out visible signals to nearby fish who interpret it as, ‘there is something moving down there that maybe good to eat. In nature if you can be seen your dead. Most prey species of the bonefish are very well camouflaged. Your fly must not mimic nature to well for if it cannot be seen you will not catch fish. Because the Gotcha fly rides hook up it consequently does not gill hook many fish unlike the conventional hook down fly. Although the fly was not designed with this feature in mind it has increased the amount of fish that can be caught and released. In nature if you can be seen your dead.
Subtle colored flies work best on sunny, bright days in shallow water. Bright colored flies work best on cloudy days in deeper water or at sunset. Bonefish patterns should match the color of the bottom in the area you are fishing: light colored flies on light sandy bottoms and dark colored flies on dark turtle grass/coral bottoms. Flies that hit the water with little impact are more effective than those that strike heavy and spook the fish. Bonefish know that if they reach the crest of a flat on an incoming tide they will find the best food waiting for them. Look at your tide tables and find the crest. Sometimes schools of Bonefish will rush towards there as the tide turns and starts to flood. Getting a take is all about placement and delivery in front of your target.. Sometimes it does not matter if your fly is tan or orange.
On my last trip my guide spotted a single Bonefish grubbing in the mud about 50 feet from the boat in perhaps 18 inches of water. I managed to get a perfect cast to it, started retrieving and felt the line tighten as the the fish took. The normal advice at this point is to keep retrieving, not strike, as the the fish will generally hook itself. it worked. For a couple of seconds the fish jut shook it's head, not knowing what had happened to it. then it took of in a flash. these fish are really fast. In seconds all the fly line and half the backing had gone from the reel. I eventually landed a nice 6lb bonefish. With a slow moving fish I have been able to get a a bite by casting behind the tail (admittedly the first time I did this was by mistake and a short cast). I noticed the fish visible change directions as it heard the plop of the fly. It must have thought that some thing was alive behind it and trying to escape. It wheeled around and went to investigate. It saw the puffs of sand as I retrieved and it attacked. It does not always work but is a good last resort option that has claimed a number of bonefish.